There’s a sports fever in the air of the homeland of the DuetsBlog team. The World Cup final is Sunday and, from my office window, I have seen an ever-growing number of soccer fans on the rooftop lawn of Brit’s Pub to watch the matches. I’m not much of a soccer fan, but I am a huge baseball fan and so I am thrilled that my home state will be the stage for the MLB All-Star Game, which will be held at Target Field on Tuesday.
Can you imagine if a baseball stadium filled with fans started chanting: “I BELIEVE…I BELIEVE THAT…I BELIEVE THAT WE…I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!” No – baseball is America’s sport. We don’t need belief; we know our team is going to win. (Well maybe not our team lately.) Apparently San Diego State University has sought trademark registration for the mark I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN.
Of course, with all major sporting events, there is a bunch of All-Star Game memorabilia or swag that will be sold to fans, who may or may not have had one too many ounces from the self-serve beer vending machines at the stadium.
There was a story in the local media yesterday regarding the prevalence of counterfeit All-Star Game memorabilia.
I was surprised to see that the MLB or the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball does not file trademark applications for the All-Star Game logos; they simply have one registration for ALL-STAR GAME. If they have a trademark registration or a copyright registration, they can record these rights with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for a nominal fee of less than $200 per class for up to ten years of protection. As part of the recordation process, the CBP requests information regarding licensees and manufacturers who may be transporting product to the US. When an importer does not match the CBP’s records for allowed users of the mark, the CBP will detain the product, investigate its authenticity, and destroy the product if it is counterfeit – all without the MLB having to do anything but register their trademark with the CBP.
But what if someone were to use the background of the logo, not include the registered ALL-STAR GAME wording or the MLB symbol until it was delivered to the U.S. If I had Photoshop, I would show you what I mean. Without protection of the design elements of the logo, that product wouldn’t be stopped at the border by CBP. Now the All-Star Game may present a poor example of this because they use a new logo for the Game every year and they build up some common law rights in the mark (which can’t be registered with the CBP), but think about your business and your client’s business. If someone eliminated your protected words from your design logo, would you be adequately protected?
While of course I am not encouraging this, I do hope to see a vendor cheekily selling Derek Jeter gift baskets.